How to Budget for Your First Flat


apartment headerYou’ve done it! You did all the research to find the perfect flat for your needs, you signed the lease and you have your move-in date… now what? There are many expenses you need to anticipate when moving into a new flat, even more so if it’s your first one. Here are a few expenses you can expect once you have your keys — prepare a budget now so you’re not caught off guard!


Common Expenses



Expense type: One-time

Movers are known to be pricey and sometimes unreliable. Get referrals from friends or internet review sites if you can — you don’t want to be stuck paying extra fees for booking a new mover last minute when another bails on you. Better yet, enlist your friends to help you. Offer to return the favour when they move or buy them dinner — both options cost substantially less than hiring professionals.



Expense type: Recurring

Heating and cooling are two of the toughest utilities to predict because of seasonal changes. Plan to pay more at either extreme of the spectrum (in the coldest of winter and the hottest of summer). Utilise the timer if your thermostat has one so you’re not paying for additional heating and cooling when you’re not at home. Set it to return to your preferred temperature 30 minutes before you usually return home.



Expense type: Recurring

Ask your landlord what the typical monthly cost of electricity is for your unit. This is something that’s very much in your control, so do your best to minimise additional expenditures. Unplug things when not in use, don’t leave lights on in rooms you are not using and shut down your computer overnight. Use LED bulbs in your light fixtures if possible.



Expense type: Recurring

Some might say that internet is absolutely necessary at this point, but cable can certainly be optional. With services like Hulu and Netflix available for such a low cost, consider subscribing to a streaming service rather than paying for a cable package with channels you may not even watch. You’ll save plenty of money and still have a large amount of options available to you.


Renter’s Insurance

Expense type: Recurring

In case of fire, burglary and other catastrophic events, renter’s insurance works much like homeowner’s insurance to help you with the cost of recovery. It doesn’t matter how careful you may be — accidents happen to everyone. Even if it doesn’t happen to you, it may happen to someone else in your building, and it could end up affecting you. If one apartment starts on fire, there’s a chance the whole building could go up. This may seem far-fetched, but most policies are relatively inexpensive and worth it. Better to be safe than sorry, especially if you’re investing in new things for your first flat!



Expense type: Recurring

Your first trip to the grocery store will be much more expensive than a typical trip because you’ll be buying all the essentials to build up your pantry. Don’t forget crucial items like salt, pepper, oil, paper towels, milk, hand soap, dish soap, cellophane, etc. When it comes time for a typical shopping trip, make a list beforehand and stick to it to avoid unnecessary purchases.


Optional Expenses



Expense type: Recurring, potentially annual

Check with your landlord to see if there is parking available in your building and, if so, whether you need to pay for it. If you do, you might as well shop around for the best price first. Check to see if you can park on your street overnight or if there is a nearby building that is selling its overflow spots for cheaper than your building. Bear in mind that sometimes the lower price may not be worth it, especially if it’s an uncovered spot (think about winter!) or in an insecure location.

Once you’ve secured your parking spot, check with your local government to see if there are additional tags or permits you need — you don’t want to end up with a ticket for not having the proper registration on your first day in your new home!



Expense type: One-time

When you move into your first flat, you’ll probably end up purchasing a significant amount of furniture. Make sure you plan out your purchases carefully since the overall cost is sure to pile up. Consider buying only what you absolutely need to start and then add over time to help distribute the cost. If you want to furnish your home right away, consider visiting a thrift shop or searching through Craigslist for lightly used furniture at a much lower cost.


Kitchen Supplies

Expense type: One-time

Kitchen supplies are another major expense like furniture, and in the same way, it’s easy to spend a lot during the first trip! Apply the same principles here: Buy the essentials and try to hold off on infrequently used items. You can also look at Craigslist and thrift shops as a resource for low-cost options. Avoid resorting to paper utensils. It may seem cheap at first, but that recurring cost adds up over time and isn’t worth the convenience.


Gym Membership

Expense type: Recurring

Taking care of yourself is very important — not only for your health, but also for keeping your medical bills lower down the line (think of it as preventative maintenance!). Gym memberships vary greatly depending on the amenities available. Check to see if your building has any partnerships with local gyms for a lower membership cost. If not, make sure to shop around and figure out which one makes the most sense for your new location. If you commit to an annual membership but the location isn’t convenient to your new flat, chances are you won’t go and it will end up being a


Babs is a content writer at Enova International, Inc. with a Bachelors in Cinema Studies and English from the University of Illinois (ILL-INI!). She loves binge watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos! Find about more about her on Google+.